Fight for fair outcome for ‘Model A’ schools

Negotiations for new multi-enterprise agreements (MEAs) for teachers and support staff in the seven Catholic independent schools classed as ‘Model A’ have stalled.

Model A schools are Brigidine College St Ives, Mater Dei, Mount St Benedict College, Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, St Scholastica’s College, St Vincent’s College (teachers only) and St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill.

Santa Sabina College is seeking its own enterprise agreement (EA) but is currently on an EA similar to the current Model A MEAs.

Traditionally Model A MEAs schools have been represented by the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER).

Conditions have reflected those in other Catholic independent schools, but in the case of teachers, the pay rates and classifications have reflected those in Association of Independent Schools (AIS) 3 Band schools.

Normally, negotiations between the union and the AIS for the AIS MEAs are completed well before the Model A schools bargaining. However, it appears that the Model A schools and Santa Sabina College represented by CCER, are now refusing to make new MEAs because the AIS has refused to make new MEAs for its 220 member schools.

A key difference between the Model A bargaining and the AIS bargaining is that the AIS is representing more than 200 schools and has stated that it is impossible to reach a common position across all those schools. Each independent school is making its own offer to employees based on its own circumstances.

The CCER claims it is unable to negotiate for seven schools (eight including Santa Sabina), other than to make a common pay offer.

Other schools have not felt so constrained. The union has just made a new three-year agreement with 47 Christian schools in NSW and the AIS is seeking to make a new three-year enterprise agreement for 10 Christian schools.

CCER has made an interim offer of a 2.28% pay rise for Model A schools in 2021. Many AIS schools have committed to the 2.5% claimed by the IEU.

The union considers the schools should seriously consider the totality of the union’s claim and make new MEAs for three years. It is not good enough to refuse to bargain just because the AIS is not bargaining.

Members in Model A schools have been urged to hold urgent chapter meetings to endorse the union’s claim and encourage non-members to join.